What are some of the top Marijuana court cases of our time?


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The debate over marijuana is not just in the realm of public opinion. Marijuana issues have created complex legal questions, some of which have traveled through the court system. Some of the most important Supreme Court decisions I’ve found regarding marijuana include:

Moncrieffe v. Holder (2013)
In Moncrieffe v. Holder, the Supreme Court recently ruled that sharing small amounts of marijuana with others does not constitute a felony that warrants mandatory deportation from the country (http://www.supremecourt.gov/opinions/12pdf/11-702_9p6b.pdf). In other words, small recreational use of marijuana does not result in the deportation of illegal immigrants. This is an important step in the gradual acceptance of the legalization movement.

Gonzales v. Raich (2005)
Whether or not the federal government even has the right to regulate marijuana is an open question. The Founding Fathers limited the power of the federal government in the United States Constitution, so some have argued that marijuana issues should be decided on the state level. However, in Gonzales v. Raich (2005), the Supreme Court ruled in a 6-3 decision that Congress could ban marijuana in states where it is legal. However, three members of the court issued strong dissent. As times change, perhaps the decision of the court will change as well.

California v. Ciraolo (1986)
In this case, a man grew marijuana plants in his backyard, which was investigated by police officers. Without a warrant, they flew a plane over David Cirialo’s backyard and saw marijuana plants from their planes. While Cirialo argued that this was an unconstitutional search of his property without a warrant, in a 5-4 decision the Supreme Court ruled that a warrant was not required since the plants could be seen by the naked eye.

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